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USA East Coast: New York City

View from Top of the Rock, New York City

Catching up on events a bit here… Towards the end of last year, as a surprise for Becky’s birthday, we headed west (a long way west!) to New York City for a long weekend. I love NYC and have been a few times before but this was Becky’s first time to the city, so the big sights were in order.

Central Park, New York City
After a long 14 hour flight direct from Dubai, we arrived around breakfast time and headed to the Nylo Hotel on 77th and Broadway. We were pretty close to the western side of Central Park so dropped the bags and headed straight there for a look around.

The proper fall colours were still a few weeks away but it was a beautiful clear day as we wandered through the busy park heading south. Stretching off any signs of jet lag, we hit Fifth Avenue and kept going. The canyon-like streets of New York City are always an incredible sight, tall buildings lining the streets, a mixture of old and new, busy roads and thronging people at all times of the day.

Working our way west before finally succumbing to exhaustion (NYC is 8 hours behind Dubai), we ended up in Times Square, which seems to be doing a great job of covering every square inch of building in LED video screens. The entire area looks like one large building shaped television now.

Times Square, New York City
Times Square
After a good sleep we were up early the next morning and at Battery Park to catch a ferry to Liberty Island. Given to New York as a gift from the French in 1886 and enduring to this day as a symbol of hope and freedom, the Statue of Liberty is pretty incredible, the sheer scale of it especially – I think I’m about as tall as her big toe. We didn’t climb to the top (the climb inside the pedestal section was enough!), but the best thing about Liberty Island is the view back towards Manhattan. It’s an incredible sight, a view that has shifted and changed over the years – new towers appearing, others tragically disappearing from view.

New York City

9/11 Memorial Waterwall, New York City
Back on the ferry and to the city, and after a feed at Hard Rock Café, we walked on to the World Trade Center site. The memorial waterfalls were here last time I visited but it’s no less saddening seeing them for a second time. I’ve seen the site develop over the years since my first visit in the summer of 2002 and the city has done a remarkable job of creating a fitting tribute to those that lost their lives on 11th September 2001. The new Memorial museum was open and we spent the rest of the day looking around. There is so much to look at and read and even in the four or so hours we were in there, we still didn’t make it all the way round. Much of it is truly moving, especially the brief audio tributes by family members, friends and colleagues of those killed that play continuously. The museum also has bits of the Trade Centre towers, including the massive communications antennae from the top of the north tower, as well as crushed vehicles and personal objects found at the site. All makes for a tough but fascinating experience.

9/11 Memorial Waterwall, New York City
9/11 Memorial Waterfall
The new One World Trade Center that has risen close by is a remarkable building, even by Dubai standards, and looks beautiful lighting up the night sky.

One World Trade Center, New York City
One World Trade Center
The next day was another sunny morning as we strolled down Broadway looking for breakfast. We jumped on the subway down to Chelsea Market. Formerly a biscuit factory (where the Oreo was invented!) the market is now home to a bunch of boutiquey shops, food halls and cool restaurants.

Greenwich Village, New York City
Becky finds her own shop!
Wandering south to Greenwich Village, we found the original (and extremely popular) Magnolia Bakery on Bleecker Street. Obviously we were unable to pass without stopping for a cake or two to check how faithful the Dubai Mall recreation really is.

Food is a key element of any trip to NYC, and that evening we ate at Keens Steakhouse in midtown: a proper old school steakhouse that looks like it’s not changed since it first opened in 1885. The vast array of steaks on offer was dizzying (who knew there were so many?) and the food was just amazing. Great service too!

The next day was wet, really wet. We took shelter in the Museum of Modern Art between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. Now, I’m all for modern art and there were a few things on display that I recognised, but this place also has some seriously strange content – see attached evidence…

Museum of Modern Art, New York City
Some interesting finds in the Museum of Modern Art...
The next day, our last full day, was sunny but windy as we made our way down to the financial heart of the city. It was a Sunday so was pretty quiet but we wandered through the empty streets to the Brooklyn Bridge. Another NYC icon, completed in 1883, we made our way across the 486 meter span, dodging cyclists and runners, reaching Brooklyn on the other side.

Brooklyn Bridge, New York City
The most populous of New York’s five boroughs, Brooklyn is green and leafy and generally less chaotic and bustling than Manhattan. Life seems to run at a slightly more gentle pace on this side of the East River. After taking in the skyline from a different angle, and taking in some coffee, we made our way to the trendy suburb of Williamsburg, the Clapham of New York if you will. The place has a unique atmosphere to it and it was great to see another side of NYC life.

Brooklyn, New York City

The highlight of any trip to New York is the view from to the top of a tall building. Take your pick in this city. The Empire State Building is great, with only problem being that you can’t see the Empire State Building itself in the view. Arguably the best observation deck though is the Top of the Rock, spanning the 67th to 70th floor of 30 Rockefeller Plaza in midtown Manhattan. This particular evening was cold but clear and gave us a breathtaking view across the city. The new One World Trade Centre is a beautiful addition to the architecture of the city from this angle.

View from the Top of the Rock, New York City
The view over Central Park from the Top of the Rock
So NYC: an awesome city, so much to see and never enough time...  We'll be back!

New York City Subway

New York City Subway

Empire State Building, New York City

Location: Upper West Side, New York, NY, USA
World Trade Center 334653089471668902

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